Keeping lists is a basic necessity if you want to accomplish anything substantial. Here are the 12 most important types of lists that you need in order to get things done. At the end of this post, I have included a bonus tip on list applications.
Why you should keep at least 12 types of lists
If you ask me, 12 lists are not enough but it’s a good start. Most people keep too few lists – if they keep lists at all. I think the below statement by David Allen, the founder of the Getting Things Done methodology, says it all.
“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”
– David Allen
The purpose of maintaining several types of lists is to have clearly defined parking spaces for your ideas and to-do items. This makes it easy to quickly add new items to a list, and easy to find what you are looking for when you need it.
1. List of goals
What do you want in life? What’s your career ambition? Do you want to work in another business, or in another country? Want to get married and have kids? Want to retire early?
This is the list of things to stretch for. This is the list of things that require long-term planning and hard work. Don’t be afraid to put things on this list. It’s not like this is a permanent list with a limited number of spaces.
You should review this list at least every sixth month.
2. Contacts list
I’m surprised by the number of people around me who have, at some point in time, lost all phone numbers and other information on friends and colleagues just because their phone or computer was lost or stolen.
I treat contact information as valuable data. This means that I regularly back up my phone using Jotta Cloud, besides using Google Contacts as my sync hub between my phone and my computers.
There are a lot of ways to synchronize contacts from Facebook and LinkedIn with your Google Contacts. It may take you a few minutes to do this, and even if you end up doing this manually, I think it is worth the time just because you get pictures to go with your contacts.
For Facebook, you can do this manually, but I would recommend using Sync.ME.
For LinkedIn, you can also use Sync.ME, but I prefer to just follow LinkedIn’s instructions on how to set this up in their app.
3. Task list / To do list
I have written a lot about task lists. Of course, I would recommend you to use the GTD methodology, but even if you don’t do that, a task list is better than no task list.
In the below blog post, I give some advice on how to improve your to-do list or task list.
4. Waiting for list
This is a useful list for anyone who is delegating work or is dependent on input from others to get work done. The simple act of following up on people who have not responded to your emails not only make sure that you get what you need but also shows that you have control.
5. List of books to read / Movies to see
Whenever you hear about a good book or see a trailer for a movie that you would like to see, put it on a dedicated list. The same goes for theatre plays or comedy shows and concerts. After I started to have a dedicated list for this, I feel that I’m able to experience the things I want to experience instead of ending up with what Netflix recommended or what was at the top of the list in the in-flight entertainment system.
6. The perfect gift list
How often do you struggle to find a gift for a person? Have you sometimes found a thing in a store that would be perfect for a person that you know, but just left the store thinking that you should go back when it’s closer to Christmas or the person birthday? With a gift list, you can make sure that you have the information when you need it.
7. Ideas list
Sometimes you have a really good idea. It can be how to solve a problem at work, or how to improve the toaster. It does not matter if it’s a million dollar idea or an idea about how to build a bench around the tree in the garden.
The idea (pun intended) behind this list is to create a place that you can access quickly to be able to document the idea before it is lost due to the “buy cat food” reminder on your phone.
8. List of food and drinks to try
I have always done my very best to try to jot down the name of a good vine or spirit. Lately, that has become a lot easier, thanks to apps like Vivino and Ginventory. For everything else, I use Evernote.
9. Bucket list
Your bucket list should be a list of things you want to do before you die. Like “visiting China” or seeing your favorite artist live. This is a list of things you are actually planning to do.
10. Someday/maybe list
Unlike your Bucket list, your someday/maybe list should consist of things that you maybe consider doing someday. The whole point with this list is to store the link to that sky-diving class you found online or that great article on how to get started as a vine collector.
11. Packing list
One of my favorite types of lists is the packing list. Technically I have several lists which I combine into one long list. The content of the final list is dependent on where I’m going, what type of travel (work or vacation) and the length of my stay.
12. Grocery list
Having a dedicated grocery list, and having the discipline to add “oranges” to the list when you take the last one out of the fridge is one of those things that can remove a lot of friction in your life. I have earlier mentioned Listonic, which is my dedicated app for shopping lists.
What’s the best list tool
I would say that for everything except vine, gin, and groceries, Todoist is probably the best list tool on the market. It is flexible enough to allow you to make different types of lists and has a ton of integration with other tools. I use Todoist for everything from managing big projects to my Someday/maybe list and packing list for traveling. For notes and information, I use Evernote.